Hometown: Baton Rouge
Ruth’s Hummus, Hanley’s Foods and Re: are just three examples of local food product success stories. Their common denominator is that they were made and perfected in the LSU AgCenter’s Food Incubator program.
Over the past year, program director Gaye Sandoz has been busy growing the incubator into a resource center for area foodies who are looking to create the next big thing. It’s a place where local food purveyors can create their dressings and jams while learning the details behind the inspection and manufacturing processes.
Buzz continues to surround the program. Sandoz says she’s got at least 20 prospective businesses in the queue waiting to use the incubator. She fields several calls a day and has added presentations to her yearly calendar. Each presentation attracts at least 45 people, all with ideas for food businesses.
She has bigger ideas for the program in 2015. She’s secured funding for a new kitchen and analytical labs. The latter will make the program more sustainable, generating more revenue by testing more than just incubator tenants’ products.
“In six months time, we’ve gone from having one person employed—me—to having two food scientists and four graduate assistants,” Sandoz says. “Our program is taking off. It’s incredible to see, but it wasn’t surprising. I knew our state needed something like this.”
Person she admires most
“My father, Dr. John Morrison. He was a veterinarian and entrepreneur. He was smart, kind and funny and had a great work ethic.”